DETROIT -- Mike Clevinger called head athletic trainer James Quinlan in the early-morning hours on Saturday to let him know that there was a big problem. The Indians pitcher was drenched in sweat, could not sleep and could not keep his food down.
"I was like, 'Hey, look, we've got some stuff to deal with right now,'" Clevinger said.
Fighting fatigue, Clevinger found his way to the mound at Comerica Park and did what he could with the energy his body could muster. In a 2-1 loss to the Tigers, Clevinger's five-inning performance under the circumstances was both admirable and appreciated within Cleveland's clubhouse.
In the end, it was the Tribe's bats that ultimately fell ill against Detroit left-hander Blaine Hardy and a handful of Tigers relievers. That put a magnifying glass over any missteps made by Clevinger, who only slipped up once in the form of a game-deciding two-run homer by JaCoby Jones in the third inning.
"He gave everything, probably a little bit more," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When we took him out, he didn't fight. He gave us a lot. That was a pretty good effort."
Prior to the game, the Indians made a couple decisions in light of Clevinger's status, which remained uncertain in the hours leading up to the game. Adam Plutko was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to offer multiple innings out of the bullpen, if necessary. Reliever Dan Otero was on call to start if Clevinger was not able to go.
Some of Otero's teammates were jokingly calling him The Opener. All kidding aside, the righty has been a part of a handful of bullpen days over the past couple years -- including during the Tribe's 2016 postseason run -- and he was ready.
"I was all for it. I don't have [a start] yet, so I was excited," Otero said. "You don't think twice about it. You know you're going to have to step up and give some innings. I think everybody was ready. Fortunately, Clev was able to pitch and he pitched really well for the circumstances."
Before the game, Clevinger had received two rounds of fluids intravenously and the pitcher also took antibiotics. He credited the work done by Quinlan and the assistance of the Tigers' medical staff to "put my body back together."
Rather than asking the bullpen to cover nine innings, Clevinger gave the American League Central-leading Indians (56-47) 78 pitches, finishing with eight strikeouts and one walk in a tough-luck loss. The right-hander scattered five hits and escaped a handful of jams, giving the Tribe lineup ample time to mount a comeback that never came to fruition.
Clevinger's lone setback arrived in the third inning, when he allowed a one-out double to Jose Iglesias and then -- one pitch later -- Jones pulled an inside fastball out to left field for a two-run homer. Clevinger sidestepped harm the rest of the way, but the damage had been done.
Hardy was a late replacement starter for the Tigers, who opted against giving the ball to left-hander Francisco Liriano after he was still dealing with the aftereffects of a bad allergic reaction on Thursday. Hardy went five innings, limiting the Indians to one run, which came via an RBI single by Jason Kipnis in the second.
The Tigers bullpen held Cleveland to a 1-for-14 showing the rest of the way.
"Man, they kind of took the sting out of our bats," Francona said. "Hardy was able to spin the breaking ball, especially in fastball counts. We didn't get much going."
The Tigers did not have much going against Clevinger, either. They did just enough.
"It was just a battle," Clevinger said. "It's just frustrating, especially with as good as my other stuff was today, that that one pitch kind of cost us the game. You don't want one pitch to a nine-hole hitter to ever put you in that position anyways -- no matter what the score is. But, I'll move past it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Great escape: The Tigers loaded the bases behind a single, walk, two stolen bases and a fielding error by first baseman Yonder Alonso in the seventh inning against Zach McAllister. Lefty Oliver Perez then entered for the Tribe and created a popout off the bat of Leonys Martin. Righty Neil Ramirez took over from there, generating a shallow flyout against Jeimer Candelario and then striking out Nicholas Castellanos to strand all three runners.
"Shoot, man. They gave us a chance," Francona said of Perez and Ramirez. "That game could have got spread out real easily, but they did a really good job."
Clev clamps down: Clevinger issued a leadoff walk in the fifth inning to Jones, who promptly stole second base when the pitcher did not check the runner. Clevinger stopped Detroit's rally there, inducing a flyout from Martin before striking out Candelario and Castellanos to escape any harm in the frame.
"He got everything together and attacked them," Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. "He had a great fastball today. He made just one mistake in the whole game, but those things happen in baseball."
HE SAID IT
"Any time you're not feeling well, it's not fun. I know they put at least two IVs in him. He battled his butt off and was able to get through five. He was cruising there for a while and hit that little rough patch with Iglesias and Jones, but he did a great job at keeping it at two and giving our team a chance to win." -- Otero, on Clevinger
"No. You can't do that. Would you tell them you're not going to come interview me because you feel a little under the weather? No, I'm not going to do that." -- Clevinger, asked if he considered not pitching
Michael Brantley went 2-for-4 for the Indians in his 1,000th career game with the organization. He became the 30th player in Cleveland history to reach at least that many games for a franchise that dates back to 1901.
Ace Corey Kluber (12-6, 2.88 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Tribe on Sunday, when the Tigers host the Indians at 1:10 p.m. ET at Comerica Park. Kluber is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two starts vs. Detroit this year, with 21 strikeouts and one walk in 16 innings. The Tigers will counter with righty Jordan Zimmermann (4-2, 3.97 ERA).